By: Rilind Elezaj, Life Coach, Animas
Increased business globalization has changed how workforces across industries are organized. Businesses require diverse teams in order to penetrate diverse target markets, and diverse teams need flexible workplaces for optimal efficiency. That is why virtual, cross-border, and multinational teams have become so popular these days.
But then, cultivating a multinational team is a huge challenge even for experienced HR managers. These are workers you do not see regularly, they probably don’t speak your language, they are distributed across different time zones, and their career aspirations are unfamiliar to you. You need firm strategies if you are to harness these differences and create a strong, cohesive team.
Let’s take China as an example:
China is attracting tons of multinational investments at the moment thanks to the country’s rapid economic growth. Companies entering China for the first time need to figure out the correct business structure to suit the highly-demanding market, they have to understand the country’s business regulations and, above all, hire the right talents for the job. Your China company formation strategy has to align with all Chinese market demographics and labor market demands for your company to grow.
In this article, we have highlighted the five crucial strategies to bridge gaps across geographical and cultural barriers and leverage diversity in multinational teams.
1. Address cultural and linguistic challenges
Cultural and linguistic challenges often precipitate the attitude of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, pitting employees who share one culture against those of a contrasting culture. These groupings look at each other with suspicion and distrust and that hurts their productivity. HR managers must put measures in place to help employees to understand and respect the culture of others, and to know that no culture is superior to others. Some of the measures that you can try include encouraging employees to learn at least two foreign languages, holding cross-cultural training conferences, and organizing exchange programs for employees in different countries.
2. Constantly reiterate company values and vision
Your interview questions, employee training schedules, new employees’ orientation processes, and staff meeting agendas should all revolve around your company mission and vision. Let the company vision be the glue that holds your team together, even when they come from different nationalities. Constantly remind all team members of the company’s policy to recruit talents from across the world. Let them know the benefits of being part of a global team. Some of these benefits include being part of a wider pool of knowledge, more diverse skills to leverage, new languages to learn, improved cultural knowledge, and the prospects of making international friends. Let them see the strength and opportunities that come with diversity.
3. Set up processes for communication and information flow
Leverage technology to break communication barriers, but be careful not to create a barrier using the same technology. Instead of opening too many communication lines and platforms, it is best that you set up one reliable avenue through which all team members communicate. You can easily streamline information flow by using slack, for example, for all your communications. Make sure that your team members are comfortable and fully committed to using the communication channel you choose.
4. Celebrate achievements and contributions
Celebrate together as a team whenever a department or an individual employee does something exceptional. Everyone should be included in the celebration, regardless of their geographical location. Always ensure that all employees are uniformly remunerated as per their rank, all employees are accorded equal promotion opportunities, and the disciplinary measures are fair regardless of the cultural differences within the team. If the company achieves something extraordinary, ensure that one of the high-ranking executives visits each field office and personally appreciate the role each employee made towards that collective achievement. Virtual team-building activities can also go a long way in making multinational team members feel like they belong.
5. Build trust with your team
Showing your employees that you care about their welfare is the first step towards building trust. Note that due to cultural differences, skepticism and suspicion will always threaten both the personal and professional level of trust that you and your team have for each other. It will be your job to diffuse that skepticism through empathy and building trust.
Expansion can be scary, but then that is your only route to global success. Besides the growth opportunities that globalization brings, you also cannot ignore the need for harnessing the best talents in the world even for your local operations. That is why you must remain focused on creating the best business multinational pool of talents for your company.